Judge orders Alaska governor to allow writer at press events

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A federal judge has ruled in favour of an online political writer who was prevented by Alaska's governor from attending press conferences.

Judge Joshua Kindred issued an injunction Friday requiring Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy to invite Jeff Landfield to media briefings, Anchorage Daily News reported.

Landfield, the owner and operator of The Alaska Landmine website , sued Dunleavy over his exclusion from the governor's press events.

The former independent state Senate candidate uses the website to write about the Alaska Legislature, state government and politics.

Attorneys from the Alaska Department of Law argued that because the governor’s office does not credential members of the media, and therefore does not set standards for press conference admittance, Landfield could not sue on First Amendment grounds because there was nothing to challenge.

Kindred ruled Landfield had been denied due process, writing in the order that members of the media have the right under the First Amendment to be invited to press conferences.

The governor may deny a member of the media the ability to ask questions while at a briefing and the governor can choose not to answer questions, Kindred ruled.

Kindred concluded that a lack of written rules does not mean the governor’s office can make ad-hoc decisions about admittance.

“Acceptance of the government’s arguments would effectively stand for the proposition that First Amendment rights do not exist for any members of the media in Alaska,” Kindred wrote.

The injunction does not require Dunleavy or his communications staff to adopt a formal, written process. But they must invite Landfield to future events while legal proceedings continue, the ruling stated.

The Associated Press